It’s not every day you retire from the Marine Corps, but for Gunnery Sgt. Nicholas Gogol that day has come after serving twenty years.
“The reason why I joined was because my cousin who was a year ahead of me, joined the Marine Corps,” said Gogol. “It was as if he could do it I could do it, type of thing. I joined, found out I was an air traffic controller and had no idea what that was.”
After Gogol graduated his military occupation specialty school he was stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.
“I’m from Toledo, Ohio so being down in the South Carolina area was familiar because I went to boot camp at Parris Island,” said Gogol. “I got some good friends, and I think that’s the thing about your first duty station. You’re figuring out the Marine Corps and life with your peers which are all lance corporals.”
Learning to be an air traffic controller requires passing tests at every duty station to ensure everything is done in a safe manner.
“It’s like getting a bachelor’s degree at every duty station you go to because you have to take so many tests and you have to memorize so much information verbatim,” said Gogol. “You have to do things the way the book tells you to do it and the entire time you have someone behind you plugged in telling you if you did it right or wrong.”
Gogol, during one of his deployments, was nominated by his peers for an Air Traffic Controller of the Year in 2008. Gogol won and was awarded by the Air Traffic Control Association, an association dedicated to progress in the science of air traffic control and the preservation of a safe flight environment.
Gogol eventually made his way to Marine Corps Air Station New River where he served the final years of his enlistment.
“What makes a duty station a good one is the individuals that are around you and the ones that are going to push you to do better,” said Gogol. “That’s kind of what I wanted to do here at New River. Once I got to the air traffic control facility we started doing hikes, and you don’t normally do that especially in the air wing. I’m also a martial arts instructor, so I started teaching the Marines a lot of MCMAP so that way they can excel.”
A Marine that Gogol influenced was Sgt. Mark Eddington, an air traffic controller at Marine Corps Air Station New River. Gogol was Eddington’s crew chief and the two worked together during the end of Gogol’s enlistment.
“I know Gunnery Sergeant Gogol from when he was my crew chief on Crew Bravo at MCAS New River Air Traffic Control,” said Eddington. “To me he’s a mentor and also someone whom if I ever asked a question and he didn’t know the answer he would ensure that an answer was found and given to me.”
Gogol now takes his experience from his time in service and plans to use it out of the Marine Corps.
“I’ve been blessed as far as this job; I didn’t choose it and all the qualifications I have are good enough to qualify me on the civilian side,” said Gogol. “My plans after retiring are to work for the DOD. Right now I have a job lined up in the Army, so I’ll still be able to serve and give back in different ways.”